Nov. 21, 2011
2011 NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES FOOTBALL
Eastern Michigan (6-5, 4-3) at Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1)
Nov. 25, 2011 | 10 a.m. (CT) | ESPNU
DeKalb, Illinois | Huskie Stadium | 24,000
HUSKIE FOOTBALL FACTS
2011 Record/MAC Record: 8-3/6-1
2010 Record: 11-3
MAC (Regular Season) Record/Finish: 8-0/1st, West Division
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
Record at NIU & Career Record: 8-3/First Year
Alma Mater/Year: Drake/1994
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-3
First Year of Football: 1899
All-Time Record: 520-463-51
Last Bowl Game: NIU 40, Fresno State 17
2010 uDrove Humanitarian Bowl; Boise, Idaho
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 47/25
Starters Returning: 11 (8 offense, 3 defense, 0 specialists)
Starters Lost: 13 (4 offense, 9 defense, 3 specialists)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FACTS
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
Affiliation: NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision
Conference: Mid-American (West Division)
Colors: Cardinal and Black
Stadium: Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Surface/Capacity: FieldTurf /24,000
President (Alma Mater, Year): Dr. John Peters (John Carroll 67)
Assoc. VP/Athletic Director: Jeff Compher
Alma Mater, Year: James Madison '80
Ticket Information: 815-752-6800
2011 NIU SCHEDULE
2011 Record/Conference Record: 6-5/4-3
2010 Record/Conference Record/Finish: 2-10/2-6 T5th West
Head Coach: Ron English
Alma Mater/Year: California '90
Record at EMU/Year: 8-27/3rd
Career Record/Year: 8-27/3rd
Location: Ypsilanti, Mich.
Colors: Green & White
Stadium: Rynearson Stadium
President: Dr. Susan W. Martin
Athletic Director: Dr. Derrick Gragg
Ticket Information: 734-487-2282
Athletics Website: www.emueagles.com
FB Media Relations Contact: Greg Steiner
Phone: 734-487-0317 (O); 734-845-1132 (C)
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2011 EMU SCHEDULE
Overall: Northern Illinois leads 25-14-2
In DeKalb: Northern Illinois leads 13-7-1
In MAC Games: Northern Illinois leads 16-4-2
Streak: NIU, 3
First Meeting: EMU 25, NIU 6 (10-8-1927)
Last Meeting: NIU 71, EMU 3 (11-26-2010)
NIU HEAD COACH Dave Doeren
Dave Doeren, a 16-year collegiate coaching veteran who has helped take teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests, was named the 21st head football coach in NIU history on Dec. 13, 2010. In his first season, Doeren has led Northern Illinois to an 8-3 record, making him the most successful first-year head coach in school history. Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin. After spending two seasons as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, he added defensive coordinator duties in 2008. During Doeren's time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-16 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl. In 2010, UW posted an 11-2 record, won a share of the Big Ten title and played TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl.
Doeren's UW defenses were consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation and while there he coached players like current National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions. Most recently, defensive end J.J. Watt was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Doeren arrived at UW after four seasons (2002-05) at the University of Kansas. He was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for his first three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2005. Prior to his time at Kansas, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA FCS power Montana for two seasons. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in his time there. He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers, before becoming defensive coordinator in 1997. A four-year letterwinner at Drake (1990-93), Doeren earned Academic All-America honors as a senior and graduated with a bachelor's degree in pre-medical biology and a master's in educational leadership. He and his wife, Sara, have three sons - Jacob, Luke and Connor.
WATCH NIU-EMU ON ESPNU
The Northern Illinois-Eastern Michigan game will air on ESPNU as NIU will be featured on an ESPN network for the fourth consecutive week. The game will also be available on ESPN3 at WatchESPN.com. Justin Kutcher will handle play-by-play duties with Tom Luginbill alongside as color analyst.
LISTEN ON THE NIU RADIO NETWORK
The Northern Illinois Radio Network, presented by IMG College, will bring Huskie fans live game action on these stations in 2011:
WLBK AM 1360 (DeKalb) - FLAGSHIP
WTJK ESPN 1380 AM (Janesville, WI-Rockford)
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
WSCR670 AM The Score (Chicago)
Each week, the broadcast begins with the pregame show 30 minutes prior to kick off. Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Baker is in his 32nd season as the play-by-play voice of the Huskies and is joined by Mark Lindo, in his 27th year as NIU's color analyst, and sixth-year sideline reporter Casey Kahler.
"Inside Huskie Football" Radio Show
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren joins host Bill Baker and other special guests on the "Inside Huskie Football" radio show with the final show of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 22 prior to the Eastern Michigan game. The show takes place live at Cabana Charley's in Sycamore and fans are invited to attend. Hear the show live on WLBK 1360 AM DeKalb and on NIU Radio Network affiliate ESPN1380AM in Janesville, Wis.
"NIU Weekly" Radio Show
Each week, join NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, host Andy Garcia and Northern Illinois coaches for "NIU Weekly" on WSCR 670 AM The Score in Chicago. The 30-minute show features a weekly interview with head football coach Dave Doeren as well as interviews with other Huskie coaches and all the latest NIU Athletics news. The show will air every Saturday morning from 7:30-8 a.m.
Fans across the country can hear all NIU live radio broadcasts, including football games and "Inside Huskie Football," live on Huskies All-Access at www.NIUHuskies.com. All-Access subscribers pay just $6.95/month or $49.95/year to receive all NIU radio game and show broadcasts, as well as select football and all home basketball, volleyball and men's and women's soccer games as well as home gymnastics and wrestling meets. Subscribers also have access to Coach Doeren's weekly press conferences and special video features.
The best source for all of the latest NIU Athletics news and information, statistics, press releases and more is NIUHuskies.com. The Huskies' official athletics website includes video, links to live stats coverage, complete bios on Huskie players and coaches and archives.
NIU'S HARNISH HONORED AS NFF SCHOLAR-ATHLETE
On Oct. 25, NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named a recipient of one of 16 National Scholar-Athlete Awards from the National Football Foundation and is also a finalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy. Harnish, who earned his undergraduate degree in business management from the NIU College of Business last spring with a 3.65 grade point average, is currently pursuing his M.B.A. He will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship and be honored, along with the other 15 NFF Scholar-Athletes, at the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2011 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York. The NFF Scholar-Athletes were selected from a pool of 127 nominees in all classifications of college football for their combined athletic, academic and leadership skills. Harnish, who owns 16 Northern Illinois career and single season records, including many that stood for nearly 50 years, is the third student-athlete from Northern Illinois to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining Patrick Stephen (1998) and Josh Haldi (2004).
HUSKIE NEWS & NOTES
#High Stakes Finale
Northern Illinois takes on Eastern Michigan in its final regular season game of 2011 with a trip to the Marathon MAC Championship game on the line. The Huskies enter Friday's 10 a.m. ESPNU contest tied with Toledo for the MAC West Division lead and need a win on Senior Day to secure their second straight appearance in Detroit.
Northern Illinois is establishing a reputation as one of the most consistently successful programs among non-automatic qualifying Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) teams. NIU is currently one of only SIX teams from "non-AQ" BCS leagues to win six or more games in each of the last four seasons (since 2008). The others with that distinction are Air Force, TCU, BYU, Southern Miss and Boise State. Hawaii is the only other teams that could be added to that list.
Northern Illinois will honor 19 seniors prior to Friday's game, including 14 players on offense, four defenders and one specialist. The group includes 13 fifth-year seniors, one player from the 2008 signing class, four who have been at NIU for four years and one two-year player. All 19 seniors have seen playing time this year and are listed on the Huskies' two-deep for Eastern Michigan with 10 listed as starters on offense and three starting on defense. The 19 players have 297 career starts for the Huskies.
Following its six-game winning streak, Northern Illinois earned 10 points in this week's USA Today Coaches' Poll, tied for the 31st position. The Huskies earned four votes in both the preseason Associated Press and USA Today polls after receiving votes in each of the final eight polls of 2010. Last year, NIU achieved season high rankings of 24th (AP) and 23rd (USA Today) in week 14 (Nov. 28). Following the bowl win, the Huskies were ranked 29th and 26th, respectively.
Northern Illinois is completing its 26th season as a member of the Mid-American Conference in 2011. In MAC games, Northern Illinois is 106-90-2 all-time and the Huskies are 71-45 (.612) in conference games since rejoining the MAC in 1997. The Huskies have won 14 of their last 15 and 19 of their last 23 MAC regular season contests. NIU is playing its 15th consecutive campaign as a member of the MAC after initially competing as a league member from 1975-85.
#Doeren's Debut Season
Dave Doeren has led Northern Illinois to an 8-3 record to become the winningest first-year head coach in school history. Doeren is in his first season as a head coach after 16 seasons as a collegiate assistant. The 21st head football coach in school history, and the 10th since Northern Illinois became a major college program in 1969, Doeren came to NIU after five seasons at Wisconsin (2006-10), where he was linebackers coach and defensive coordinator (see bio next page).
Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan will meet for the 15th consecutive season, every year since the Huskies rejoined the MAC in 1997. The teams have played 41 times overall and NIU owns a 25-14-2 lead in the series. The Huskies have won 16 of the 22 games the teams have played as league foes. At home, NIU is 13-7-1 versus the Eagles. EMU's last win at Huskie Stadium came in 2007, which was also Eastern Michigan's only win in the last 10 meetings between the teams.
Eastern Michigan is one of the oldest and most frequent opponents to dot the Huskies' football schedule as the teams will play for the 42nd time. In 109 years of intercollegiate football, NIU has played only Central Michigan (47 games), Illinois State (56) and Southern Illinois (43) more. With the 42nd game on Friday, EMU is the Huskies' fourth-most frequent opponent.
#Out of the Endzone
The Northern Illinois defense has been successful against Eastern Michigan in recent games, holding the Eagles out of the end zone in each of the team's last three meetings. The Huskies shut out EMU in Ypsilanti in 2008 (37-0) and held the Eagles to a pair of field goals in a 50-6 win in DeKalb the following year. A year ago, Eastern Michigan managed only a field goal at home in a 71-3 NIU win. EMU's last touchdown versus Northern Illinois came in their 21-19 win in 2007.
#The Last Meeting
On Black Friday 2010, Northern Illinois won its ninth-straight game with a dominating 71-3 victory over Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti. NIU scored eight rushing touchdowns - five on runs of 60 yards or more - and gained 544 rushing yards, while the Huskie defense gave up only 160 yards of total offense and allowed just 11 passing yards. Northern Illinois took a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and led 37-3 at halftime. Back-up QB Jordan Lynch, who rushed for 142 yards and two TDs on two carries, took over in the second half.
Northern Illinois is coming off of a 41-38 last-second victory over Ball State at Huskie Stadium on Tuesday, Nov. 15 as Mathew Sims hit a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds on the clock to give NIU its sixth straight win. Sims' three-pointer capped a 10-play, 63-yard drive in a game where Northern Illinois trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half. Chandler Harnish powered the Huskie comeback as he scored on a 49-yard run and led NIU's next two touchdown drives, that ended in a Jasmin Hopkins 11-yard touchdown run and a 27-yard touchdown catch and run by Nathan Palmer. The Huskies totaled 710 yards of total offense, the second most in school history, and a school record 43 first downs.
#Home Field Advantage
All-time, Northern Illinois is 145-97-2 at Huskie Stadium since its opening in 1965. NIU owns a .598 winning percentage at home, including a 55-17 mark (a .764 winning percentage) in its last 72 DeKalb contests and a 39-11 record since 2003. Northern Illinois is 5-0 in its Huskie Stadium home games so far this year and went undefeated (5-0) on Brigham Field a year ago. Overall, NIU has won 14 straight games at Huskie Stadium. The Huskies' last home loss was on Sept. 26, 2009 when Idaho claimed a 34-31 victory in DeKalb.
#Streaking in the Stadium
Northern Illinois' current 14-game winning streak at Huskie Stadium has tied the school record for consecutive victories, which was originally set between Nov. 5, 1988 and Sept. 14, 1991. NIU has also won 11 straight Mid-American Conference games in DeKalb, with the last loss at Huskie Stadium a 33-30 overtime setback to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008. The current streak began on Oct. 3, 2009 with a 38-6 win over Western Michigan. The Huskies went on to defeat Akron, Eastern Michigan and Ball State at home that season, then posted a perfect 5-0 record at Huskie Stadium in 2010. NIU has won home games over Army, Cal Poly, Kent State, Western Michigan and Ball State this year.
At home, Northern Illinois is 60-38-1 (.611) all-time in Mid-American Conference games with a 39-19 (.672) mark versus its league counterparts in Huskie Stadium since 1997. The Huskies have won 14 of their last 15 and 11 straight league home games. NIU's only home league loss over the last four seasons came in overtime to Central Michigan on Nov. 12, 2008.
Northern Illinois continues its "ESPNovember" with its second consecutive appearance on ESPNU and the Eastern Michigan game is the Huskies' fourth straight to air on an ESPN network. NIU's contests at Toledo and Bowling Green both aired on ESPN2. Since 2005, NIU has played 13 November games in front of the ESPN cameras with eight games on ESPN2, one on ESPN Classic and four on ESPNU. Including the wins at Toledo and Bowling Green, NIU is 5-3 on ESPN2 in November, 4-0 on ESPNU and 0-1 on Classic.
#If You're Counting
The Eastern Michigan game will be the 1,035th game in Northern Illinois history and the Huskies will be looking for their 521st victory. NIU has a 520-463-51 all-time record for a winning percentage of .528. Since 2000, Northern Illinois is 87-59 (.596) and has secured its 10th winning campaign with eight wins in 2011. Over that time, NIU owns the best mark of any of the three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the state of Illinois, ahead of both Illinois and Northwestern.
#Terrific on Tuesday
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish starred in the Huskies' three Tuesday night November contests, rushing for over 100 yards and passing for more than 200 in each game. Harnish totaled 465 rushing (a 155-yard average) and 897 passing yards (a 299-yard average) in Tuesday night games at Toledo, at Bowling Green and versus Ball State. His yardage numbers actually increased in each game, with 133 rushing and 265 passing yards to go along with six touchdown passes at Toledo, 151 rushing and 294 passing yards and three total scores at Bowling Green, and 181 rushing and 338 passing yards with three TDs versus Ball State. Harnish's 519 yards of total offense last week was the third-highest total by an FBS player this season.
With 1,203 rushing and 2,594 passing yards this season, NIU's Chandler Harnish is compiling rushing and passing numbers rarely achieved. Only 10 players in NCAA FBS history have reached 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing in the same year, but prior to Harnish only three - Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, Auburn's Cam Newton and Michigan's Denard Robinson - had run for more than 1,200 and passed for over 2,500 yards. If Harnish reaches the 1,500/3,000 plateaus, he will become the FIRST player in NCAA FBS history to accomplish that feat.
One of the top dual threat signal callers in the nation, Chandler Harnish leads all FBS quarterbacks with 1,203 rushing yards on 155 carries and is averaging 109.4 yards per game to rank 17th in the country and third in the MAC. With an average of 7.8 yards per carry, he is on pace to destroy the NIU single-season mark of 6.76 set by Adam Dach in 1990. His passing efficiency rating of 157.3 (on 194-of-303 passing with a career season high 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions for 2,594 yards) ranks 12th in the FBS and second in the MAC.
#He's Got Legs...
With 181 yards rushing versus Ball State, Chandler Harnish surpassed Stacey Robinson (1988-90) as the top rushing quarterback in Northern Illinois history. Harnish replaced Robinson in ninth place on NIU's all-time rushing list as he now has with 2,807 yards on 499 carries, passing Robinson's 2,727 total. Harnish also has 23 career rushing scores, with a career-high 10 in 2011, to rank ninth all-time in that category. His 10 career 100-yard rushing games are tied for ninth on NIU's career chart. He has led the Huskies in rushing in seven games this season, including each of the last six, and currently ranks third in the MAC, and 24th in the country, in rushing yards per game with 109.4.
Quarterback Chandler Harnish currently owns or shares 18 Huskie passing and total offense records after setting the single-game total offense record versus Ball State with 519 yards (338 passing and 181 rushing), breaking the previous mark of 477 set by Phil Horvath versus Akron on Sept. 24, 2005. Harnish has also set the NIU career mark for touchdown passes with 10 in the last three games and is now breaking his own records (set last year). In 44 career games, Harnish has completed 644-of-1,029 passes for 8,322 yards (all records) with a school-record six 300-yard passing games, including three this season. He has accounted for 11,129 yards of total offense and 85 touchdowns (rushing and passing) in 1,528 plays - also all school records.
#The 200-200 Club
Chandler Harnish put himself in the NCAA record books with a rare 200-200 performance versus Western Michigan. Harnish became only the 10th player in FBS history to have 200 passing AND 200 rushing yards in the same game as he completed 14-of-27 passes for 203 yards and ran for 229 yards on 14 carries. Harnish joined an elite list of players that includes Texas' Vince Young (2005), Patrick White of West Virginia (2006), Brad Smith of Missouri (2005), Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (2000) and Michigan's Denard Robinson (2010). Harnish's 432-yard total offense day earned Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Huskie quarterback has rushed and passed for more than 100 yards in the same game nine times in his career.
Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish is one of only three MAC players to rush for 200 or more yards in a game this season with his 229-yard effort versus Western Michigan; the performance ranks 12th among all players and is the top rushing total by any FBS quarterback in 2011. He gained 163 yards in the third quarter, the second-highest single quarter total ever at NIU, behind only a 173-yard second quarter by Stacey Robinson versus Fresno State on Oct. 6, 1990. It was the third-best rushing game by an NIU quarterback in school history and the best in 21 years, since Robinson's 306-yard total in that October 1990 win over Fresno State.
#Best Passing Day
As a redshirt freshman starting his first career game at Minnesota in 2008, Chandler Harnish threw for 326 yards on 17-of-29 completions to record the best passing yardage day of his NIU career. That total held for 37 games, until Oct. 1, 2011 when Harnish threw for 370 yards on 27-of-50 passing at Central Michigan. The 370 yards rank sixth all-time at NIU, while 27 completions tied Harnish's career-best and are fifth on the single-game list as are the 50 pass attempts. Harnish's 462 yards of total offense (370 pass, 92 rush) versus CMU are now the third-most by an NIU player.
The Northern Illinois offense produced some astronomical numbers versus Ball State with 710 yards of total offense - the second-highest total in school history - on 95 plays. For the third time in 2011, two NIU players gained more than 100 rushing yards as Chandler Harnish ran for 181 yards and tailback Jasmin Hopkins added 122 for his second 100-yard day of the season. The most eye-opening stat of the night came under the heading of first downs as Northern Illinois posted 43 first downs while scoring 41 points. The Huskies' first down total was just two less than the NCAA single game record.
#Game-Winner A First
NIU sophomore kicker Mathew Sims made the biggest kick of his Huskie career when he booted a 34-yard game-winning field goal versus Ball State with eight seconds on the clock. Sims' kick gave the Huskies a 41-38 victory. Following the game, Sims was asked when was the last time he had made a game-winning field goal. The Missouri native's reply, "Never. That was my first one." To which Huskie quarterback Chandler Harnish said, "I'm glad I didn't know that."
Huskie senior offensive tackle Trevor Olson set the NIU school record for games started versus Ball State when he made his 51st career start. Olson broke the record set by Huskie center Eddie Adamski from 2006-09. The Huskies' starting left tackle since 2008, he was a first team All-MAC choice a year ago.
NIU's record-setting offense has been powered by one of the best and most experienced offensive lines in the country. Behind redshirt seniors Trevor Olson (LT), Scott Wedige (C), Joe Pawlak (RG) and Keith Otis (RT) and redshirt junior Logan Pegram (LG), NIU ranks eighth nationally in rushing offense, seventh in scoring offense and ninth in total offense. The Huskies rank third in the country in fewest sacks allowed and had a string of five straight games without allowing a sack snapped by Ball State. They have still allowed only seven sacks on the year. The five veterans up front have made 159 combined starts, led by Olson's 51 and former walk-on Pawlak's 38. Otis and Wedige have 25 starts each; Pegram has started 20 contests.
#Forty is the New 30
With its season-best 63-point outburst at Toledo, Northern Illinois broke its school record for most 40-point games in a season. The Huskies have hit the 40-point mark in nine of their 11 games this year, including in two of NIU's three losses. They broke the previous Northern Illinois record of six 40-point games in a season. NIU is now averaging 41.6 points per game, above last year's school record average of 38.0 points per game.
Sophomore kicker Mathew Sims broke a pair of NIU single-season scoring records with 11 points in the Ball State game (on two field goals and five PATs). Sims has scored a school-record 107 points on 17 field goals and a school-record 56 PATs so far this season, surpassing the kicking points and PATs made records set by kicker Mike Cklamovksi a year ago. Sims' 107 points rank eighth on the single season charts for points. He is also already on the Huskie career scoring charts with 117 points and 60 PATs made to rank ninth and seventh on the NIU career lists, respectively.
#Leading the League
With the Huskie offense scoring at a record rate, sophomore kicker Mathew Sims is posting some noticeable numbers as well. Sims leads the MAC in kick scoring with 9.7 points per game with his 107 points (56 PATs and 17 FGs). He ranks 13th nationally in overall scoring and is tied for 10th in field goals. Sims made four-of-six field goals at Central Michigan, and hit all four of his three pointers versus Kent State when he was named one of the Lou Groza Award "Stars of the Week." His perfect day tied for the top percentage game in school history and was the first time since 2000 that an NIU kicker went four-for-four or better on threes.
#On The Hop
Over the last 13 seasons, Northern Illinois has had a player run for 1,000 or more yards 12 times (see chart), and Chandler Harnish became the first quarterback to add his name to that list earlier this year. NIU has never had two players gain 1,000 yards in the same season, but tailback Jasmin Hopkins can join the 1,000-yard club with 159 rushing yards. Hopkins already leads the Huskies, and ranks second in the MAC, in touchdowns with 16. He has three 100-yard games this season (vs. Army, Cal Poly and Ball State) and four in his career.
#Hoosier State Hook-Up
Senior Nathan Palmer (Elkhart, Ind.) caught three Chandler Harnish (Bluffton, Ind.) touchdown passes at Toledo, to tie for third on the NIU single game list for TD catches in a game. Palmer became the first Huskie to catch three touchdown passes in a game since current Chicago Bear Sam Hurd versus Central Michigan on Nov. 5, 2005. Palmer leads NIU in receiving with 42 catches for 568 yards and five TDs.
#A Different Defense
After surrendering 60 points in Northern Illinois' win over Toledo, the Huskie defense put together one of its best performances of the year at Bowling Green. After giving up an 83-yard touchdown pass on the game's first play, the Huskies held the Falcons scoreless until 14 seconds before half. NIU shut out Bowling Green in the second half to record its first shutout half of the season while allowing the Falcons just 90 yards of total offense. For the game, Bowling Green had four three-and-outs and just 79 rushing yards.
After missing the Bowling Green game, junior receiver Martel Moore came back to lead the Huskies with six catches for 120 yards versus Ball State. Moore tied his career high for catches in recording his third career 100-yard receiving day. He opened the Huskies' scoring with a 15-yard touchdown play and had catches of 40 and 44 yards to set up NIU scores. Moore ranks second on the team in receiving yards with 440 on 32 catches and is tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with five.
Northern Illinois junior noseguard Nabal Jefferson earned first team Capital One Academic All-District honors and is now eligible to earn Academic All-America recognition from the College Sports Information Directors of America. Jefferson, an accountancy major with a 3.91 grade point average who is having a career year on the NIU defensive line with 32 tackles, is the Huskies' first Academic All-District selection since 2008.
#Speading the Wealth
Chandler Harnish has hit 10 different receivers for touchdowns this year with six players scoring multiple receiving TDs. In addition, three Huskies (Nathan Palmer, Willie Clark, Martel Moore) have recorded 100-yard receiving days. In all, 16 players have caught passes and eight receivers have at least 10 catches on the year.
Sophomore tailback Akeem Daniels made the longest play of the day, and the Huskies' longest reception of the season, at Bowling Green when he caught a 79-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Harnish on the fly sweep to give NIU a 31-14 lead. It was the longest pass play for the Huskies since 2008 when then-freshmen Harnish and Nathan Palmer connected on a 91-yard pass play at Minnesota.
#Wild One at Toledo
Chandler Harnish completed his sixth touchdown pass of the night on a four-yard toss to Perez Ashford with 19 seconds on the clock to lift NIU to a 63-60 win over Toledo in the Glass Bowl on Nov. 1. After taking a 49-41 lead early in the fourth quarter, NIU gave up back-to-back touchdowns to the Rockets and trailed 53-49 before coming back twice in the final eight minutes to claim the Huskies' third win all-time at Toledo. NIU struck early as freshman Tommylee Lewis brought the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown and scored on a 95-yard return after Toledo answered with a score.
After leading the Huskies to a 63-60 win at Toledo by throwing six touchdown passes - the second-most in MAC and in NIU history - including the game-winner with 19 seconds left, Chandler Harnish was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week and the Rivals.com MAC Player of the Week for the third time this year. Harnish completed 17-of-26 passes for 265 yards and rushed 16 times for 133 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 6, 71, 16, 19, 15 and 4 yards to pick up MAC honors for the eighth time in his career. Freshman kickoff returner Tommylee Lewis also earned MAC West Specialist of the Week recognition for the Toledo contest after returning a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns (see below).
#Lightning Strikes - Twice
Versus Toledo, fans had barely settled in their seats when NIU freshman Tommylee Lewis brought the game's opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, tying the school record for longest scoring play (Dave Petway, 100-yard INT return vs. Southern Illinois, 10-22-77) and setting the mark for longest kickoff return TD (previous record, 98 yards by Byron Florence vs. Western Michigan, Sept. 23, 1972). Four minutes and 30 seconds later, Lewis went 95 yards - untouched - to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. That return is tied for the ninth-longest scoring play, and fifth longest kickoff return, in NIU history.
Lewis joined a group of 13 players in Football Bowl Subdivision (NCAA Division I-A) history who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. The list includes players like Raghib Ismail (Notre Dame), the only person to score twice on kickoff returns in two games. With his two kickoff return scores versus Toledo, Lewis became the first player in Northern Illinois history to return two kickoff returns for scores in the same game; he tied the NIU records for most kickoff return scores in a season and in a career.
#Adding to Lewis' Lore
In addition to the single game, single season and career marks for kickoff return touchdowns, Lewis broke the record for most kickoff return yards in a game with 223 on four returns for an average of 55.7 yards per return. His average per return broke the record of 42.3 compiled by Tommy Davis versus Eastern Michigan in 2009. The Huskies also set team marks for most kickoff return yards and most TDs.
Through 11 games, Northern Illinois opponents have lost two yards on six punt returns for an average of -0.3 yards per return. Of NIU punter Ryan Neir's 42 punts, 25 have been fair caught and 12 have resulted in the opponent starting inside the 20-yard line. Neir has not had a kick go into the end zone.
#Conversions Are Key
Offensively, Northern Illinois ranks ninth in the nation and leads the MAC in third-down conversion percentage with a 50.3 mark (77-of-153). The Huskies have hit the 50 percent mark in seven of their 11 games so far this season, including a season-best 11-of-13 conversions in the Army game and a nine-of-12 mark versus Cal Poly.
Senior tailback Jasmin Hopkins has scored 10 rushing touchdowns in the Huskies' last five games with a season-best three scores versus both Western Michigan and Buffalo and two more last week versus Ball State. He has at least one TD in nine of Northern Illinois' 11 games with five multiple touchdown games. Hopkins has scored 16 touchdowns on the year with 15 rushing and one receiving. With 16 TDs in 166 touches, Hopkins scores once every 10.4 times he touches the ball.
Back in his middle linebacker position for the first time since 2009, senior Pat Schiller leads the Huskie defense and ranks eighth in the MAC in tackles. Schiller has a career-best 95 tackles on the year with 37 solo stops and 58 assists. He has recorded a career-high 8.5 tackles for loss and has 219 career tackles. Schiller has 10 or more tackles in four games.
After making a name for himself as a true freshman on special teams with three blocked punts, defensive back Jimmie Ward has become an every down player in the Huskies' defensive backfield in 2011. Ward ranks second on the NIU team in tackles with 79 and his 37 solo stops are second on the squad. Ward led NIU in tackles at Toledo and versus Wisconsin, with 13 and 11, respectively. The Alabama native also has a quarterback sack, two tackles for loss, a blocked punt and three pass break ups on the season.
#Along the Line
While the Huskies' defensive line rotation features as many as 10 players, three have set themselves apart with their play so far this season. Defensive end Sean Progar, a first team All-MAC choice a year ago, leads NIU and is ranked in the Top 10 in the league with 4.5 quarterback sacks. Progar has 110 tackles and 26.5 tackles for loss in his career. His 14.5 sacks rank eighth on the career list. Meanwhile, defensive end Alan Baxter and defensive tackle Ron Newcomb are having career years. Newcomb, a senior, never had more than 13 tackles in a season entering 2011 but has 43 stops and 9.5 tackles for loss this year. Versus Kent State, he totaled 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, made a career high nine tackles, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal to earn MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors. Baxter leads all NIU players with 9.5 tackles for loss and has three sacks.
#Good Day for the Defense
Northern Illinois held Kent State to 64 total yards, the lowest by an NIU opponent since the Huskies joined the Major College (Division I FBS) ranks in 1969. The Flashes' one rushing yard on 38 carries was the lowest total since Miami (Ohio) had minus 11 rushing yards on Oct. 24, 2009. KSU's 63 passing yards were the fewest since Eastern Michigan tallied just 11 passing yards last year (11-26-10). In addition, Northern Illinois' 15 tackles for loss were the most since NIU had a school-record 16 versus Eastern Michigan in 2002 (11-16), while the 84 yards lost were the most ever by an NIU defense, breaking the old record of minus 80 yards versus Wisconsin (9-14-02). The Huskies' eight sacks were their most since Oct. 24, 2009 versus Miami.
Northern Illinois has 36 Chicagoland natives on its 110-man roster in 2011. NIU's Chicago contingent includes starters Da'Ron Brown, Jack Marks, Joe Pawlak, Keith Otis and Willie Clark on offense, along with Alan Baxter, Ron Newcomb, Nabal Jefferson, Sean Progar, Pat Schiller and Rashaan Melvin on defense.
#Defensive Lineman's Dream
Nabal Jefferson fulfilled a defensive lineman's dream versus Kent State when he picked off an attempted screen pass and returned it 25 yards to record the first score of 2011 for the Huskie defense. Northern Illinois picked off a season-best two passes versus both WMU and Buffalo with safeties Demetrius Stone (WMU) and Dechane Durante (UB) and linebacker Michael Santacaterina (WMU) recording their first career INTs. NIU's interceptions have been by a linebacker (1), defensive linemen (2), defensive backs (4).
Twenty-six players have seen their first action as Huskies this year, including true freshmen Tyler Wedel, Jason Meehan, Rob Sterling and Tommylee Lewis. Six redshirt freshmen have started games: Luke Eakes (TE/FB), Da'Ron Brown (WR), Jamaal Bass (LB), Michael Santacaterina (LB), Dechane Durante (S) and snapper Brian Mayer. Transfers Jamal Womble (RB), Leighton Settle (RB), Jhony Faustin (DB) and Tim Semisch (TE) have also played their first games as Huskies with Faustin and Semisch earning starts.
#On the Blocks
Northern Illinois has blocked four kicks this season, including three punts. NIU blocked a punt and a field goal versus Kent State with Dechane Durante getting his hands on a punt, while Ron Newcomb knocked down a late Flashes' field goal attempt. NIU's other punt blocks this season have been by Courtney Stephen, who blocked a punt versus Cal Poly, and Jimmie Ward. Stephen recovered Ward's block versus Army and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. A year ago, the Huskies blocked five punts and seven total kicks.
#So Long Saturdays
The Buffalo game on Oct. 22 marked Northern Illinois' last Saturday game of the 2011 season. NIU enjoyed 10 days between the game at Buffalo and the first of its three straight Tuesday games (Nov. 1 at Toledo) and had another nine days off between last Tuesday's home contest versus Ball State (Nov. 15) and Friday's regular season finale. The game marks the first time since starting the weekday schedule that NIU has had more days off than its opponent.
#Home SEVEN Home
Through six of its seven 2011 home games, Northern Illinois has posted a 5-1 record, including a 5-0 mark at Huskie Stadium. The lone loss came to No. 7 Wisconsin in Chicago at Soldier Field Showdown II. NIU's seven home games is the most since 2003, when the Huskies went 7-0 at Huskie Stadium en route to a 10-2 record. Northern Illinois played just five home games in 2010. The Wisconsin game marked NIU's second Chicago game after opening the 2007 season versus Iowa at Soldier Field. Northern Illinois returns to the site for the 2012 season opener versus Iowa.
#Back to September
Northern Illinois posted a 2-2 record in non-conference play for the third straight season as NIU completed its 2011 non-league slate in September. The Huskies won their season opener for the first time since 2003 with a 49-26 victory over Army, then dropped a 45-42 decision at Kansas when the Jayhawks scored on fourth and goal with nine seconds left in the game. The Huskies ran into a powerful Wisconsin team in Chicago and fell to the No. 7 ranked Badgers 49-7 in Soldier Field Showdown II before defeating Cal Poly 47-30 in the non-conference finale to reach the 2-2 mark.
Northern Illinois is ranked among the best football programs in the nation according to the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR). NIU's 987 APR for 2009-10 puts the Huskies in elite company, behind only Northwestern (993) and Rutgers (988) and ahead of teams like Duke (986), Stanford (977) and Vanderbilt (977). One of 14 teams in the country to receive an NCAA Public Recognition Award, NIU's APR of 987 is 41 points above the national average. The APR measures the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes.
#Novak's Last Class
Of the 19 seniors on Northern Illinois' 2011 roster, 13 are fifth-year players signed as part of former head coach Joe Novak's last signing class. The 13 were on the Huskie team that won just two games in 2007 but are now among a very small group of Northern Illinois players to have played on three bowl teams. Among NIU's 13 fifth-year seniors, 10 are listed as starters and all 13 are on the two-deep. The group includes four players who were on the 2007 team as walk-ons, receiver Willie Clark, offensive guard Joe Pawlak, fullback Pat McAvoy and tight end Jack Marks, along with 51-game starter Trevor Olson at left tackle and four-year starting quarterback Chandler Harnish.
#Honoring the Past
NIU honored its 1963 Huskie National Champion Football team by raising a banner atop a 63-foot permanent flag pole outside Huskie Stadium prior to the Homecoming game versus Western Michigan. Members of the 1963 team, including all-time great and College Football Hall of Famer George Bork, were in attendance. The flag pole is located just outside the gates at the southwest corner of Huskie Stadium and can be seen clearly from inside the stadium. The 1963 NIU team posted a perfect 10-0-0 record, capped by a victory over Southwest Missouri State in the Mineral Water Bowl, to claim the College Division Championship.